Eilean Donan – Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

Having been featured in photos, ads, and films, the island fortesss known as Eilean Donan has spent centuries solidifying its position as the most iconic image of Scotland for natives and foreigners alike.

Built on an island a mile away from the Village of Dornie, the land was first occupied in 634 AD, home to the monastic cell of Bishop Donan. During the 13th-century Alexander II built the first incarnation of Eilean Donan to defend the surrounding mountains of Kintail and the Isle of Skye against the Viking hordes. This original castle is said to have an immense curtained wall connecting seven towers and spanning the entire island. Come 1719, a lesser-known Jacobite uprising partially destroyed the structure, and for the following 200 years, it lay in near ruins. Finally, in 1911, Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap arrived. He bought the island and restored the castle, reopening it in 1932.

Jutting artfully from its island perch at the intersection of three lochs, the castle has been featured in a number of ad campaigns, television, and films, such as; The New Avengers (1976), Highlander (1986), and Entrapment (1999). As of 2021, the Internet Movie Database (IMBD lists 21 entries in which it was used as a location, beginning with “Bonnie Prince Charlie” starring David Niven in 1948. Today, what is deemed the fourth incarnation of the castle (the history of the second and third structures remains unknown) is still owned by the MacRae family, who run a tourist center and restaurant for those who care to venture into the Feudal folds of Scotland’s history.

Know Before You Go

Feeling romantic? You can hire out the castle for your own wedding. This is a drone free area.

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